Outside Lands: Day Two

August 24, 2008

For the last couple years I’ve been going to the Austin City Limits Music Festival and I’ve been fortunate enough to have my best friends there with me. So being at the Outside Lands festival without them makes me a bit sad, especially with the amazing lineup that they have.

The beginning of the day didn’t feature any artists that I was hugely familiar with so I decided that I’d do some live music browsing. This is one of the greatest things about large music festivals, with three bands playing at any given time you can sample a bunch of new artists and see what they are like in their element. I checked out a couple songs from Dredg then made my way over to long time locals The Coup. The Coup was playing at a stage right next to the festival merchandise area and I wanted to pick up one of the festival posters, so I ducked out a little early to go pick one up.

This is where I have my only complaint of the festival, merchandise. Tons of people want to buy t-shirts and other memorabilia at these festivals but it appears like they didn’t plan all that well for this one. Granted it is the first time they are putting on this festival so I will cut them a little slack, but there’s plenty of other festivals to model things after.

All I wanted was a poster, simple enough. I had seen them on Friday but got so annoyed with the people running the booth that I gave up and decided to come back early Saturday. I was shocked and very disappointed when I learned that the posters had already sold out! How could they be running out of things when it’s just a couple hours into the second day of a three day festival? I’m not sure but I wish it wasn’t the case.

Fortunately there is plenty of good music to cheer me up and I was going to go check out Liars. I listened to their opening song and honestly wasn’t feeling them so I moved on to see what Sean Hayes was like. Good choice on my part, Hayes was fantastic. He had a really playful and fun mood about him and it was clear that he was excited to be there.

M Ward was playing right next door after Sean Hayes closed his set so it was a no brainer to go check him out. His set was very easy to listen to, even if you aren’t familiar with his music but I only stuck around for the first half of it. Donavon Frankenreiter was playing shortly and I needed to be up front for that show.

Donavon Frankenreiter

Donavon Frankenreiter

I got to Donavon Frankenreiter’s set about an hour early and people were already starting to gather. Fortunately I was only a few feet from the stage and incredibly excited to be there. My best friend Alex turned me on to his music a few years ago and somehow I hadn’t managed to see him in concert yet, a problem that would soon be resolved.

During the 35 minute set he managed to play songs from both of his full length albums including two of my favorites “Free” and “Move By Yourself”. I love artists like Frankenreiter because they have passion for the songs that they sing and respect for the people that listen to them and it’s never more evident than when they are playing a live show.

About to hand the mic to the crowd

About to hand the mic to the crowd

On many occasions I’ve tried to explain to people why I love going to live shows where I can be right in the front of the audience, especially smaller venues and artists that aren’t mainstream. This show by Frankenreiter is the prefect example of why I am so addicted to these types of concerts. He closed his set by playing “It Don’t Matter”, not only is this a fantastic song, his performance was truly amazing. The chorus of the song goes “If it don’t matter to you, it don’t matter to me” and at the end of the song Donavon climbed down off the stage and into the crowd bring along the mic. He then gave the mic to the crowd and allowed us to sing into it. This was one of the greatest moments of my life because I was right there, singing the chorus into the mic at a Donavon Frankenreiter show. The trust that you have to have with your crowd to do that is something that you simply don’t find with larger artists. Simply amazing. I just hope our singing didn’t suck.

I was so excited that I immediately had to call Alex and share the experience with him while walking to the Ben Harper show. I’ve seen Ben Harper a number of times so I hung out in the back of the pack for the first few songs then made my way over to the Sutro stage because Cake was performing shortly. I became a Cake fan after the radio stopped over playing “The Distance” but I’ve also never seen them in live.

I got to the stage where Cake was playing early enough to once again be right in the front. Cake has such a deep bench when it comes to great songs to play and they had no problem filling the hour with a crowd pleasing set. They even took a moment during the show to give away a potted tree to a fan that was able to tell them what type of tree it was. In exchange for this tree, the person had to plant it and send Cake a picture of the tree to put on their website every couple years. I personally think this is such an awesome and creative thing for them to do.

The crowd was so pleased with the set that at the end of it almost nobody left. We all stood there cheering and chanting, trying to get them to come back on the stage. This almost never happens at a music festival because they have to adhere to such tight schedules and I think it made some people kind of nervous. Here we had at least 10,000 people all wanting the set to continue but the sad fact is that it can’t, and it didn’t. But it was still a fantastic show and a fantastic crowd.

The last act for the day was Tom Petty. I like Tom Petty but I don’t love him, I can listen to his music but I won’t buy any of it. Mostly because he’s too popular and that makes it really hard to get up close and interact with the performance. So with 30 minutes left of the set I decided to beat the crowds and head out early.

Even though I didn’t have my best friends around to enjoy such an amazing day, it was still exactly that, an amazing day. The only thing that I expect will beat it is day three: ALO, The Mother Hips, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene, Rogue Wave, Widespread Panic, Wilco and best of all Jack Johnson.

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